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EU leader Barroso visits China with large delegation at special time
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20:53, April 24, 2008

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Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Union (EU) Commission president, arrived in Beijing on Thursday afternoon, starting a China visit at a time of several Sino-EU disagreements.

During his three-day tour, Barroso will meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao and talk with Premier Wen Jiabao. He will also attend a picture exhibition and a seminar on climate change.

The first China-EU High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue will also take place during his Beijing stay. Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan and EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson will co-host the dialogue.

Barroso's delegation include nine commissioners in charge of environment, science and research, external relations, trade, energy, tax and customs union, development and humanitarian aid, employment and social affairs, and consumers protection.

"Trade relations, energy and climate change will be major topics of the dialogue," said Zhang Jianxiong, a research fellow of European studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Science.

He said China and the EU, major trading partners of each other with great trade volume, were very clear about the important role of trade and economic cooperation in bilateral relations.

China is the second largest trade partner of the EU, while the EU is the top trade partner of China. The bilateral trade volume in the first three months of 2008 reached 93.92 billion U.S. dollars, up 24.7 percent.

Differences on the Tibet issue, however, has recently soured the Sino-EU relationship.

"Barroso's visit will be very substantial. A main purpose is to mend the fissure that occurred in the Sino-EU relationship," said Shen Jiru, a Chinese Academy of Social Science research fellow.

Zhang added the two sides launching the dialogue as scheduled and upgrading their discussions on those issues from ministerial level to heads of government displayed their willingness to further push forward the bilateral relations.

This is Barroso's fourth visit to China since he took the office of the EU Commission President in November 2004. He was invited by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.


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